Hingis takes Hamburg Open title

HAMBURG, MAY 7. Martina Hingis today crowned the week which lifted her back to the World No. 1 ranking when she claimed the title at the $535,000 Hamburg Open with an easy 6-3, 6-3 victory over 13- year tournament veteran Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario.

The top-seeded Swiss cruised to victory on another sunny afternoon in front of 7,800 fans in 79 minutes. It was her second Hamburg crown after 1998, the third title of the year and 29th overall in her career.

By reaching the final the previous day, Hingis had already amassed enough points in the WTA rankings to reclaim the World No. 1 position after five weeks from U.S. player Lindsay Davenport in the next rankings to be issued tomorrow.

Hingis received an $87,000 winner's cheque for her 14th win in 15 meetings with the 28-year-old Sanchez-Vicario. The Spaniard, a Hamburg winner in 1993, 1994 and 1996, had to settle for $43,500.

Hingis was less erratic and fresher on Sunday than her opponent, as the fourth-seeded Saanchez-Vicario spent almost three hours on court for her semifinal win against Amanda Coetzer on Saturday and another two later in the day in her doubles.

Hingis, 19, raced off to a 4-1 lead, allowed Sanchez- Vicario a brief comeback to 4-3, but clinched the first set two games later with a service winner.

In the second set Hingis wasted three match points serving at 5-2 before winning in the next game with a break at love with a blasting return winner.

In the semifinals on Saturday, Hingis defeated Germany's Anke Huber 6-3, 6-2, while Sanchez-Vicario took two hours 45 minutes to beat eighth-seeded South African Amanda Coetzer 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (7-4).

Huber began strongly and tested the top seed with her strong forehand. But Hingis matched her in the baseline rallies, and several times caught her seventh-seeded opponent with some daring dropshots.

Hingis saved a break point in the third game and then broke to lead 3-1, only to concede the next game to love. But she broke again to go ahead 5-3 and served out for the set.

The second set saw Hingis break for 1-0, again drop the next game to love, but she then took a 2-1 lead. Another break for 5-2 sealed Huber's fate.

There was little to separate Sanchez-Vicario and Coetzer throughout their gritty baseline battle, in which some of the rallies went to more than 60 exchanges.

After Coetzer levelled the match at one set all the Spaniard faced a crisis when she found herself down 0-40 on her serve as the deciding set got underway. But she pulled herself out of trouble, and then rallied to break Coetzer twice to establish a dominant 4-0 lead.

But like her opponent, Coetzer is known for her tenacity, and she twice prevented Sanchez-Vicario serving out for the match, at 5-1 and 5-3. Sanchez-Vicario held five match points before eventually closing the match out in the tiebreaker.

lThe results: Final: Martina Hingis bt Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario 6- 3, 6-3. Semifinals: Martina Hingis bt Anke Huber 6- 3, 6-2; Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario bt Amanda Coetzer 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (7-4). - AFP

Martina Hingis with the Hamburg Open tennis tournament trophy, which she won defeating Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario on Sunday.

- AP